Black Student Union’s annual Soul Food Dinner, “Black Girl Magic,” on Saturday Feb. 23 was more than just a dining experience; it was a night dedicated to embracing and celebrating the power of black women in a rich and welcoming setting.
Attendees were fully immersed in the theme of “Black Girl Magic” right as they sat down at their seats. On each table was a children’s book by either a black author or illustrator— sometimes both.
The books served as a method for the celebration of young black women and their hair. There were also a few books focused on young black men, which was part of the message that BSU president Dinetra Gowdie wanted to share.
“I feel like [young black girls] don’t see a lot of girls in their classes wearing puffs or they don’t see the hairstyles that they’re going to school in,” Gowdie said. “I wanted to put [the books] out there to showcase the deficit in the literature and just how much we need these books for these children to feel good about themselves, to feel empowered and to grow up loving themselves, because a lot of us in the room didn’t have those books and didn’t have the same experience.”
Attendees were treated to a full menu of delicious soul food made by BSU: fried chicken, mac and cheese, candied yams, collard greens, cornbread, barbecue ribs, apple pie and ice cream.
While they ate, BSU put on multiple performances that celebrated “Black Girl Magic.” The club performed dances—choreographed by psychology major sophomore Kamesha Miller and pre-biology major sophomore Catherine Echavarria—to songs by powerful black women like Beyoncé and Ciara.
The other main performances came in the form of two plays that were written by BSU. The first play, “The Blacker the Berry,” focuses on the problem with colorism. It follows two friends who go on a casting call for a television host. Although less professional, the friend with the lighter skin tone is chosen for the role, while the other friend is dismissed because of her darker skin tone.
“We wanted to show how you might not even need as much as a dark-skinned woman may have to overcompensate for when you’re lighter skin because you already have that privilege,” Gowdie said.
The second play, “Black Girl Magic,” focused on various insecurities a group of girlfriends have—hair, body image, skin color and self-image—while they were guided by the entity of “Black Girl Magic.”
Despite their struggles, “Black Girl Magic” helped the girls feel proud of themselves, leaving them to state strongly at the end, “black girls, we have nothing to lose but our chains.”
Psychology major sophomore Mika Swanson found the “Black Girl Magic” play especially moving.
“The ‘Black Girl Magic’ show addressed topics that many non-black people don’t face or even have to think about on a daily basis,” Swanson said. “They did it in such a way where everyone’s personality shone through in the show.”
The choice of “Black Girl Magic” as an entity rather than a character or message was due to its lasting presence, according to Gowdie.
“We decided to have it more like an entity because it’s more like a feeling,” Gowdie said. “[The varying problems that black women face are] not something that you ever really accept, but it’s just always a journey of acceptance.”
BSU vice president junior Kiana Henderson elaborated on the fact that “Black Girl Magic” is such a phenom that it could only be portrayed as an entity.
“It’s whatever you make it. It’s all-encompassing. It’s about love, it’s about joy, it’s about everything that black women bring to the world,” Henderson said. “It’s fearless, it’s limitless...it’s something indescribable.”
BSU public relations chair junior Mya Nazaire explained that “Black Girl Magic” is unique to the identity of a black woman.
“‘Black Girl Magic’ is just having this power to overcome a lot more than anybody else has to,” Nazaire said. “Being able to be confident and just powerful and still have so much love for each other … being a black girl just encompasses so much love and beauty.”
Audience members like psychology major sophomore Kiara Maher enjoyed the complexity and richness of the event.
“BSU did an amazing job of representing the struggles of intersectionality that black women face specifically,” Maher said. “Throughout their performance, you could really feel the strength and courage that black girls have and that they are truly magical.”
BSU holds meetings open to all students on Thursdays in the Fireside Lounge. Their next event will be the Annual Curl Fest on March 30.